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Hellboy: Seed of Destruction/Wake The Devil/Weird Tales I

Posted: Monday, January 12, 2004
By: Craig Lemon

Seed Of Destruction:
Wake The Devil:
Weird Tales, Vol I:

Writers/Artists: Various
Publisher: Dark Horse

With the imminent release of the Hellboy movie, Dark Horse are making their play to re-present this superb series of graphic novels to the public, and it's only fair I do my part to bring them to your attention. Seed of Destruction and Wake The Devil are volumes one and two of the "regular" Hellboy stories - written and drawn by Mike Mignola (with scripting assist from John Byrne in the first volume) - and this time around the books have a nice red stripe at the top of the cover, plus - for the first time for a Hellboy trade - a volume indication on the spine. Otherwise the contents are the same as previous printings of the trades - same introductions (would've been nice for a new update in each, but there you go) from Robert Bloch in book one, and Alan Moore in two.

Seed of Destruction suffers a little from having to introduce the cast and being the origin story of Hellboy, except it tells very little of the origin, leaving much shrouded in hints and innuendo - not surprising as his full origin hadn't been decided at this time. In the closing stages of WWII the Nazis were desperately attempting any method of breaking the Allies, even down to mystical ceremonies which had no apparent effects...except to bring forth a demonic boy and place him straight into the arms of the waiting Allied forces. Fast forward fifty years, and although still called Hellboy, the boy is now a man and works for the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense. He is, however, not the only legacy creature from that time...the nazis have survived and, in resurfacing, are looking to bring armageddon to the Earth...

Wake The Devil fills in much more of Hellboy's background, explaining a little about those bumps on his head, his supposed destiny and much more about these covert nazis and what they've been up to...it feels a much more rounded storyline, ends on a heck of a high note. When Nazi zealot Ilsa Haupstein declares she's willing to give her life for the glory of the reich, she's taken at her word in a horrible sequence which is left mostly to the imagination...except for the slow, deliberate flow of blood from her...nasty.

Weird Tales, Volume One collects the first four issues of the Hellboy anthology, by creators such as John Cassaday, Joe Casey, Bob Fingerman, Alex Maleev, Fabian Nicieza, Andi Watson and a dozen or two more. These shorts vary from the whimsical (Hellboy spends time in a haunted house but can't see the ghosts although we can) to the serious (Hellboy's right arm just so happens to fit a porthole to a demon dimension as if it were the key all along), from the hilarious (a look at Hellboy's day off) to the nasty (a riff on The Exorcist). Of the newcomers in the book, artist Seung Kim is a helluva find, his beautiful art cries out to be given its own series. Suffers a little from not being canonical, but much better than any anthology has any right to be.



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